Smartphones and the Future of Shopping

ePN_Mobile_Browsing565 The latest mobile phone and smartphone sales data compiled by Gartner shows two very positive trends for the smartphone. First, sales are growing sharply: In the fourth quarter of 2012, sales were up almost 40 percent over the prior year’s fourth quarter.

But perhaps even more important is that there is plenty of room still to grow. If you move in certain circles or spend enough time on your own smartphone, it can be easy to assume that everyone has one and the market is saturated. In fact, conventional mobile phones – also known as feature phones – still constitute a larger but shrinking share of the global handset market. Gartner predicts that the year 2013 will be the first year that smartphones outsell conventional feature phones.

In other words, if you think smartphones are popular today, you haven’t seen anything yet. Just wait.

Inevitably, this steady encroachment of the smartphone will continue to transform the way we live and work … including the way that we shop.

Today, mobile shopping still accounts for a very small portion of total retail sales and most of that shopping is done on tablets, rather than smartphones. But the numbers are growing sharply. Today, most retailers are still experimenting with the most effective mobile shopping apps. But when you consider the rapid clip at which consumers all over the world are adopting smartphones, it’s hard not to see a parallel to some of the other transformative technologies of the last few decades from the consumer internet to social media.

Just as there was once a time when businesses actually debated whether they needed a website, many retailers today still wonder whether they need to cater to mobile shoppers.  There is no way of predicting exactly how we will all use our smartphones in the future, but this latest data offers some compelling evidence that these phones and their applications will be used a lot.

All this is to say, if you’re thinking about whether it still makes sense to promote smartphones on eBay – there’s no better time then now!

Update to Domain Requirements Coming January 23rd!

If you’ve been part of our program for any period of time, you’re probably aware of our policies regarding domain registration and validation. For some of you, those requirements meant a bit of extra work, and for others it meant you weren’t able to participate in our program at all. Today, we’re excited to announce a couple of significant positive changes that will begin rolling out on January 23rd.

Mobile Domain Registration

In the past, we’d asked all publishers to register their domains with us in order to be paid on mobile traffic. As of January 23rd, you’ll receive compensation on all mobile traffic regardless of the domain being registered, and will see data on mobile traffic in your dashboard shortly thereafter.

Domain Validation

As part of our program we’ve always required publishers to show proof of domain ownership by validating their websites. Unfortunately, that meant sites hosted on platforms like Blogger or were not eligible to participate in our program. We’re pleased to announce that on February 20th that restriction will be lifted. From that date you’ll be able to use third-party blog platforms to host your content and promote eBay.

Let’s Make it Easier

Over the last few months, you’ve heard us talk a bit about our V.O.T.E.S. strategy for 2013. We have made a commitment to make things as easy and efficient as possible for our publishers and this was the first step. Over the coming months we’ll continue to evaluate our existing policies and procedures and streamline them as much as possible to make it easier to participate in our program.

We’re excited about these two new changes and we hope you are too. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below and we’ll do our best to get you an answer quickly.


Optimizing Email for Mobile

A month ago we wrote a post about ways you could be utilizing email to strengthen your business. Today, I want to continue that dialogue and take the discussion a bit further. Let’s say that you’ve acted on the recommendations outlined in our post – you’ve made email a priority and have hopefully started to see some gains. But wait - did you anticipate how many readers would be opening your emails on their mobile devices? Has it affected how they respond to your call-to-action?

Econsultancy published a study that shows that 15-20% of all email is opened on a mobile device. Is your email formatted to be mobile-friendly? What about any links contained in the email? The study further finds that 41% of all European smartphone owners would either close or delete an email not optimized for mobile.

Some other key takeaways from the study:

  • Apple’s operating system appears to be the easiest for marketers to work with, as iPhone emails scored above average across all criteria.
  • The report found that brands have also successfully tackled rendering, readability and clickability on Android, but struggle across the board on Blackberry.
  • Buttons on mobile emails, as with other mobile calls to action need to be large and obvious so users can easily click on them.
  • More often than not brands linked to non-mobile optimized sites that that took a long time to load.

You can read the full study over at Econsultancy’s Blog.

Obviously email continues to be an important tool in our marketing toolbox. With the rise of mobile it is becoming more nuanced and requires extra steps in strategy, planning and execution to ensure the most impact for your business.

Have you made mobile part of your email marketing plan? What percentage of your users open email on their mobile device? We’d love to get your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.

ePN TV: Adam and Saquib Answer More Publisher Questions

This week Global Initiatives Manager, Adam Anderson, and Marketplace Liaison, Saquib Pasha, are back to answer more of your questions on ePN TV. On tap are questions from Tommyknuckles and Jules about affiliate links in Pinterest and monetizing from within mobile apps, respectively.

Did you find Adam and Saquib’s answers helpful? Do you need more clarification? Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments below.

Don’t forget, the ePN Blog can now be delivered right to your inbox. Simply enter your email address in the right-hand sidebar in the section titled “Subscribe by email” and follow the instructions.

Understanding the Psychology of Mobile Commerce

20110817-090602.jpg In our industry it’s important to try and understand the psychology of how people shop – What do they shop for? Where? What time of day? On what type of device? Understanding these types of behaviors helps eBay, and our publishers, create the best experience possible for their users.

I came across an article last week on Adotas that talked about mobile and how it intersects with daily deals. Author Jay Weintraub is very clear about what he thinks works well and what doesn’t.

He says:

“It’s all about short bursts of attention. You’re competing with life much more when on a mobile device…or at least Angry Birds or its equivalent. It’s also a very browsing oriented medium not search oriented. More scrolling, swiping, and pinching, less typing.

The same things that make mobile different from the web in theory make it quite well suited for the deal space. Deals are impulse decisions. They aren’t the product of searches, and they are very local. The issue is the psychology. Deals work so well on email because it’s a captive audience. It’s why branding works so well on TV.”

Jay goes on to look at the types of deals (evergreen vs. perishable), and considers a user’s behavior when shopping on a mobile device. He believes that in order for mobile deals to be successful you need them to either have social integration or a game component - or both. What do you think?

How much do you think about mobile and how it ties into your business? What sort of consumer behaviors do you better need to understand to propel your business going forward?

Early Mobile Survey Results and iPad Winner

Wow, thank you to everyone who responded to our survey regarding your mobile plans for 2011! We are thrilled that so many of you anticipate venturing into the mobile space for the first time this year. With so many consumers embracing the convenience of shopping via mobile phone – 62 percent over the past six months, according to an Adobe survey – there is no time like the present to make it easier for these eager buyers by expanding into the mobile space.

A quarter of our survey respondents indicated that they already have a mobile presence – bravo! Of those who haven’t ventured into mobile yet, a whopping two-thirds plan to do so this year. Your responses have proved very insightful, and we can’t wait to share the full results of the survey with you – we will soon.

But for now… the moment you’ve all been waiting for… the winner of the iPad is (drumroll, please)… Neville Ridley-Smith of AuctionSieve! Congrats to Neville and thanks again to everyone who participated.

Auction Sieve